Archive for November, 2009
There have been 20 different films based on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, if you consider the recent 3-D version, Disney’s A Christmas Carol, starring Jim Carrey. When I say there have been 20 Scrooge Stories on film, though, I’m talking about animated films for Children, silent movie shorts, modern adaptations and films loosely based on A Christmas Carol. If you want faithful, feature length live-action films that played on the big screen, there have been 7 such movies based on A Christmas Carol.
A Christmas Carol in Prose
The original 1843 novella by Charles Dickens was titled A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. Ironically, it’s said that Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in a matter of weeks, because he needed money for the coming birth of his fifth child. A Christmas Carol is famously based on a character who loses the spirit of Christmas (or human goodwill in general) because of an immoral level of greed. When visited by three ghosts who show Ebenezer Scrooge visions of the past, present and future, Scrooge learns a valuable lesson and turns from the picture of the amoral businessman of the 19th century into a man of charity and goodwill.
Since the publication of A Christmas Carol, the story has never been out of print and has been adapted both for 22 stage productions, 2 operas, 4 recordings, at least 10 radio broadcasts, 49 loosely based tv show adaptations and 20 film versions. Many of the Christmas Carol films have been animated versions of the Scrooge tale.
A Christmas Carol Animated Films
Since it’s a Christmas story and it involves ghosts and children, it’s natural that less grim versions of A Christmas Carol have been turned into animated movies for children. For the past several generations, many peoples’ first encounter with A Christmas Carol has been through animated versions.
- A Christmas Carol – 1971 animated short by Richard Williams, later famous for directing Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Starred Alistair Sim, reprising his role from 1951.
- Mickey’s Christmas Carol – 1983 short film starring the most famous Walt Disney characters, with none other than Scrooge McDuck, naturally in the role of Scrooge. Disney’s first version of A Christmas Carol.
- A Christmas Carol – Lesser known straight-to-video animated version by Jetlag Productions, an American-Japanese studio.
- A Christmas Carol – 1997 – Animated film featuring the versatile Tim Curry as Scrooge and also starring Michael York, Whoopi Goldberg and voiceover master, Ed Asner.
- Christmas Carol: The Movie – Ambitious 2001 animated film by Illuminated Films, using voices of famous movie stars like Nicholas Cage, Kate Winslet and Simon Callow.
- A Christmas Carol - This 2006 film uses computer animation and anthropomorphic animals to tell the story of Scrooge.
- Barbie in a Christmas Carol – 2008 film loosely based on A Christmas Carol, from the seemingly endless series of Barbie animated movies.
A Christmas Carol Short Films
Dickens’ Christmas tale was an early favorite of the movie producers and was adapted to film on four occasions before World War I even. Each of these silent films were film shorts for British audiences.
- Scrooge; Or Marley’s Ghost – 1901
- A Christmas Carol – 1908 version which starred Thomas Ricketts as Scrooge.
- A Christmas Carol – A 15-minute short with Marc McDermott and Charles Ogle, respectively playing Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit.
- Scrooge (Old Scrooge) – Sir Seymour Hicks starred in this 1913 film, which was released in the United States in 1926 under another name.
A Christmas Carol Movies
Finally, we have our list of feature-length adaptations of A Christmas Carol. If you’re looking at these as the only faithful film versions of the movie, then I would say there have been 10 film versions. If you’re talking about true adaptations and not Muppet versions and modern versions based on A Christas Carol, then take out the 1988 and 1992 selections and say there have been 8 Christmas Carol feature films or feature length movies.
There are likely others just as deserving as the television movie starring Patrick Stewart, though I’ve relegated most to the list of tv versions of A Christmas Carol, because they are either not very true to the original source material or weren’t full features. For instance, I left off 1997′s Ebenezer, starring Jack Palance and Ricky Schroeder in a Western version of Scrooge. I also left off the Hallmark Channel’s version, starring Tori Spelling as “Scroogette”. I think you get the picture.
- The Right To Be Happy – This 1916 silent movie was the first full length film version of A Christmas Carol, starring Rupert Julian in the Scrooge role.
- A Christmas Carol – Another silent movie version from the United Kingdom, this 1923 film stars Russell Thorndike, Jack Denton, Forbes Dawson and Nina Vanna.
- Scrooge – Seymour Hicks reprises his role as Scrooge in this 1935 release.
- A Christmas Carol – 1938 version with Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart and Kathleen Lockhart.
- Scrooge – This 1951 release, starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge, along with Mervyn Johns and Hermione Baddeley. Considered by many to be the best version of A Christmas Carol on film.
- Scrooge – 1970 musical starring Albert Finney and Alec Guiness as Scrooge and Marley’s Ghost, respectively. This is the film many of us grew up watching.
- Scrooged – Modern adaptation from 1988 starring Bill Murray as a tv producer who doesn’t understand the spirit of Christmas.
- The Muppet Christmas Carol – A 1992 film that was targeted for children, using the famous puppets created by Jim Henson.
- A Christmas Carol – 1999 feature length tv film starring Patrick Stewart as Ebenezer Scrooge. If you want to consider only feature films that played at the cinema, leave this one off the list. It’s a faithful adapation, though.
- Disney’s A Christmas Carol – 2009 “performance capture” film, with Jim Carrey starring as Scrooge, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Future. Released on November 4, 2009. (U.S.)
What Is Bluray Disc Storage?
“Blue Ray” is what people often called Blue-Ray disc storage, which is simply an optical disc storage technology meant to supercede DVD.
Though the Blu-Ray disc is exactly the same size as CD and DVD discs, Blue Ray stores more information and displays it better. Blue Ray technology is used with high-definition televisions and with the Playstation 3 game system.
Blu-Ray storage is an upgrade from the existing technology, because it allows the disc to store roughly six times the information a standard DVD could store. Data retrieval requires a shorter wavelength ray compared to the DVD laser retrieval. Since the DVD wavelength uses a 650 nanometer red laser and the Bluray wavelength uses a 405 nanometer blue-violet laser to retrieve date, the name “blue ray” was used early on to define the optical disc storage device. This was shortened to Blu-Ray for marketing purposes by Sony.
Blue Ray technology was made possible by the invention of the blue laser diode by Shuji Nakamura, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Blue-Ray marketing was delayed for six years due to a dispute over the blue laser diode’s patent.
Blue Ray or HD?
Eventually, Sony began marketing “blue-ray players” and Toshiba began marketing a competing technology, called High-Definition or “HD DVD Players”. This was similar to the marketing war between Betamax and VHS in the early days of the VCR. Like the battle that VHS won, the two competing systems would not be viable indefinitely, so the Blue-Ray War became a marketing battle for the life of the systems.
Eventually, Toshiba took its DVD HD players off the market, admitting that Blu-Ray Disc Players would be the next stage in storage disc technology development. Toshiba now markets its own version of the Blue-Ray disc player.
The high definition optical disc format war, as it came to be called, appeared to be a format war among equals at first. On the HD DVD side, three of the Big 6 movie studios gave support, along with Microsoft, several big PC firms (including Toshiba) and Wal-Mart. On the Blu-Ray side, 3 major Hollywood studios joined Hitachi, Panasonic, Sharp, Pioneer, Samsung and a number of other companies on the Blu-Ray Disc Foundation.
Blu-Ray sales started strongest, but many predicted the participation of Microsoft, Wal-Mart and Warner Bros. would tip the balance in HD DVD’s favor. Attempts were made to come to an agreement, but the Blu-Ray firms had lost billions on royalty rights on DVD, and they refused to change their technology to suit the compability desires of Microsoft and their personal computer allies.
Many movie production firms and studios adopted both technologies when selling their movies to the public, while Netflix and Blockbuster rented both Blue Ray and HD DVD discs. HD DVD had a cheaper price, though Blue-Ray was considered a better system with one or two add-ons its competitor did not have.
Warner Bros Blue Ray Decision
Eventually, Warner Bros., which has the largest share of the American movie market, decided to discontinue its use of HD DVD discs. This began a wave of defections to the Blu-Ray camp, as Best Buy, Netflix and Blockbuster announced they would use Blu-Ray exclusively. The Warner Brothers decision is seen as the pivotal decision in the format war.
The final strike against HD DVD was the decision by Sony to include a Blu-Ray player in its Playstation 3 console. Microsoft’s XBox game console did not have the ability to play HD DVD discs. This was a major advantage, because PS3 users bought millions of blu-ray discs, while video game rental companies and video rental companies also ordered blue-ray discs by the millions. HD DVD could not compete, and Toshiba announced in 2008 it would take its HD DVD players off the market.
- What is a Blu-Ray Disc Player?
- What is a Plasma Screen Television?
- What is a HD Ready Television?
- Should I Become an Early Adopter?
- What is the Best By-Mail Movie Rental Service: Netflix or Blockbuster?
Acid Rain Basics
Acid rain is a rainfall that is unnaturally acidic in nature, usually caused by the inclusion of nitric and sulfuric acids from the emissions of chemicals from industrial plants in the region.
When nitrous oxides and sulfur oxide are pumped into the atmosphere, those chemical compounds react with oxygen and water in the air, creating clouds that contain nitric acid and sulfuric acid. The next time it rains, the rain water will come down as “acid rain”.
Most acid rain is produced from gases released by the burning of fossil fuels. Roughly 2/3rds of the acid rain in the United States is produced by the burning of coal in industrial plants. This is why acid rain appears in regions that are heavily industrialized with coal-burning plants.
History of Acid Rain
Acid rain was first discovered in 1852, roughly a 60 to 70 after the Industrial Revolution began in England and during the period that is now known as the Second Industrial Revolution (1850), when industrialization picked up pace in advanced countries. This discovery noted a mere mention and the phenomenon was not studied for over a century, when the much heavier industrialization of the 20th century began to create more common and more widespread instances of acid rain.
Scientists in the 1960′s and 1970′s began to notice the acidic rainfall in industrial regions, as well as lakes that contained no life. With studies of the effects of acid rain, environmentalists and ecologists began to note the aquatic life of lakes saturated with acid rain died from unsafe living conditions: they were killed by the increasing levels of acid in the water.
The U.S. Congress authorized a 10-year study of acid rain in 1980. By the 1990′s, it was determined that some 5%-6% of American lakes do not sustain life due to the appearance of acidic rain.
This was followed by emissions laws to reduce CO2 and other compounds which cause acid rain. Since that time, emissions laws have been passed in 28 US states. As a result, acid rain has been reduced by roughly 65% in the most affected regions.
Does Acid Rain Harm Humans?
Studies have shown that acid rain is likely to cause harm human beings. When fine particles of something harmful to the human body enter the air and eventual enter the human body, they can cause diseases like cancer. People breathing air in areas where acid rain occurs are more likely to get cancer and other diseases.
Besides, damage to the ecosystem has harmful effects on human society. Fish are a major link in many food chains. If fish are needlessly killed, it can have a damaging effect on the entire food chain. When enough of the wrong kind of fish die, that can make the price of fish and fish products increase. When even more die, it can damage the food supply for all kinds of animals, including humans.
Where Is Acid Rain Worst?
The New England states were the ones that first noticed acid rain, but their ecosystems have improved in recent decades. New York State is heavily affected by acid rain. Other U.S. states also are affected, as is southeastern Canada.
Southeastern China and Taiwan are also affected by acid rain. Scandinavian countries have suffered from acid rain. Other places that might become trouble areas are Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the western portions of South Africa, West Africa, Sri Lanka and Southern India.
Countries where the need to develop quickly overrides environmental concerns are where acid rain is most likely to appear in the future.
Minimum Wage Laws
“Minimum wage” is the lowest minimum wage that an employer may pay to a worker in montly, daily and especially hourly wages. Theoretically, workers are not allowed to legally sell their services for less than the minimum wage, either.
The idea behind a legal minimum wage is to establish a standard of living so that less skilled workers do not live in poverty in the United States.
Opponents of minimum wage dispute whether this is what happens with the minimum wage, claiming a legal minimum wage leads to unemployment of younger, inexperienced, handicapped or less skilled workers, since a company or employer doesn’t want to pay these workers less than they’re worth.
Therefore, they claim that the minimum wage helps more skilled workers, while actually harming less skilled workers.
Those against this line of argument would claim that people cannot live if they earn below a certain wage. These people would argue that the people who benefit the most is management or “business interests”, as they benefit from cheap labor at an exploitative rate.
Since there is evidence to support either side of the argument, it might be that the minimum wage laws are not an either/or proposition, but help many, while hurting others.
All “western” civilized nation and 90% of worldwide nations have minimum wage laws, in an attempt to prevent a class of “working poor” or poverty-stricken workers. Australia and New Zealand were the first nations to enact minimum wage legislation, in the late 19th century.
What Is the Current Minimum Wage?
Currently, the national minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour. In the United Kingdom, the current minimum wage is £5.80, which is actually higher than the U.S. minimum wage, due to the strength of the U.K. pound. The state of Washington in the U.S. has its own minimum wage law of $8.55.
Even in regions that have no fixed minimum wage, other pressures establish an unofficial minimum wage. Public opinion about extortionate wages may force a corporation to set their wages at what are considered acceptable levels. The appearance of labor union or workers union might exert an upward pressure on wages in that area, while even the threat of unionizing workers might pressure an employer to keep wages high enough to maintain a contented workforce.
Multinational corporations located in so-called Third World countries might be pressured to pay wages more in line with what they would pay workers in more developed countries by governments or media coverage.
Do Minimum Wage Laws Work?
There have been endless arguments and debates about whether the minimum wage laws do what they are supposed to do. The fact that 90% of the governments in the world mandate some kind of minimum wage indicates that a vast majority of the world’s leaders at least think the minimum wage laws help and not hurt a society.
Opponents of minimum wage laws would argue that the acceptance of minimum wage in the most economically powerful countries in those countries to pressure governments in the less developed nations to accept minimum wage laws.
Studies have shown that a minimum wage law generally does not increase unemployement, as it is claimed to do. Minimum wage laws also put more money into the hands of those with the least money, so they spend their entire paycheck.
This, in turn, helps drive the economy, since all this wage money is put back into the consumer economy. Also, it’s mentioned that a minimum wage law tends to help a government’s budget, since the government doesn’t have to use as many funds to pay for services for the less fortunate.
Most of us know that a person would have a hard time living in America making two dollars an hour or four dollars an hour, so it’s probably a good idea to have a certain minimum wage in effect. Raising the minimum wage might be inflationary in an of itself, but raising the minimum wage helps some of the poorest among us to keep up with the price of inflation.